As a Southern California native, I enjoy not only proximity and discounted ticket prices to “The Happiest Place on Earth,” but also a distinct knowledge of how to get the best experience out of a trip to Disneyland and California Adventure. From the best food spots to timing rides right, here are 10 ways to make sure you don’t end up eating at the infamous Bengal Barbecue.

1. When to take off.  

The best time of year to miss lines is February. With Valentine’s Day as an exception, the parks are full of locals and have shorter wait times.

Photo Courtesy of Ricky Shull

2. Preparations.  

Be sure to download the app MouseWait before your trip. It’s the most accurate and best rated line app for Disneyland and California Adventure. Be aware that this app can quickly drain the battery on your phone, so come prepared with travel battery packs. If you would rather use an outlet, then make a stop at Smokejumpers Grill in California Adventure or Redd Rockett’s Pizza Port in Disneyland. Locals believe these locations have more electrical outlets than any other dining in the parks.

3. How to make an entrance. 

The parks have various opening hours, ranging between 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Make sure to check these before your visit. No matter what time it opens, always arrive early.

  • Pro Tip: You can pick up some of the best beignets at Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen in                 Downtown Disney while you wait for the gates to open.

4. Now that you’re in.

Start with California Adventure. End with Disneyland. Disneyland stays open later and gets packed earlier. It’s best to start your day at Radiator Springs Racers and end it in the Fast-pass+ lane for Space Mountain.

Photo Credit: Hannah Bogue
Photo Courtesy of Ricky Shull


5. How to keep on swimming.

Disneyland has parades at 4:15 p.m. and 8 or 10 p.m. Make sure you’re out of the park and in California Adventure at this time. Not only will lines be moving faster, but you can avoid the risk of getting stuck in one part of Disneyland for the parade’s duration.

6. And swimming, swimming.

One of two magical gems in the rather unpopular Adventureland is the Tiki window during a wait time for Indiana Jones Adventure. The line for Indiana Jones significantly decreases during the 20 minute period before an Enchanted Tiki Room show. While the crowds are being sucked into a show, you can be moving through a line with a typical wait time of 90 minutes or more.

7. Refreshments fit for a princess.

The second is the Tiki Juice Bar. Hosted by Dole, their pineapple soft serve is probably laced with pixie dust. It’s that good. If the line is long, don’t worry-it moves alarmingly fast.

Photo Courtesy of Ricky Shull

8. Exiting with a bang.

Fireworks are a nightly affair. Alternating between 7:40 and 8:40 p.m. there are around 20 minutes of Disney-inspired and traditional fireworks. The farther away you are, the better. Getting up close and personal to the show means getting up close and personal with thousands of other people. Then, when you try to leave it’s a stand still. Watch from Main Street and enjoy all of the breathing room Disneyland has to offer.

9. Leaving your crumbs. 

While admiring the fireworks show, be sure to capture the best photo opportunity in the park. No, it’s not at the entrance or in front of Cinderella’s castle, or with Elsa and Olaf. The picture-perfect moment is in the middle of Main Street at night. The lights are gorgeous and the fireworks are positioned directly behind you. If a picture really is worth a thousand words, then this one will scream amazing over and over.

10. Left wanting more?

Don’t think you have time for all the fun and happiness Disneyland has to offer? You thought wrong. Disneyland and California Adventure have a 24-hour day each year where families and schools come to get the most fun out of the park.

There are 754 reasons why I love my home state. Reason number one is Disneyland. I hope your experience at “The Happiest Place on Earth” is the best as well.